Emacs' dired mode, which is used to navigate the file system and perform operations such as moving, copying and deleting files, is extended to provide succinct aural feedback. When navigating through the file listing, the user hears the name of the current file or directory spoken; different file types e.g., directories, executables and symbolic links are distinguished by speaking their names in different voices. Opening a file plays the auditory icon for opening an object, and then speaks the name of the file just opened. Marking a file for later processing, deleting a file etc. all produce auditory icons.
The auditory icons in this context are very useful because typically, performing an action such as deleting a file when using dired affects the current object and moves the focus. Visually, the file marked for deletion is set apart and the focus is moved. Combining the sound of a file being deleted with the speaking of the current object introduces the same level of parallelism in the aural interaction.
When navigating the dired buffer for the directory containing this paper, a screen-reader would speak a typical line shown below
-rw-r--r-- 1 raman users 11905 Aug 17 16:04 ex-as `` dash rw dash r dash dash r dash dash 1 raman users 11905 Aug 17 16:04 examples.tex'', an utterance that is hard to parse and comprehend. In contrast, Emacspeak merely speaks the filename; the listener can repeatedly press the tab key to hear the various fields of the file listing. Below, we list the utterances produced by each repeated press of the tab key.
Permissions rw r r Links 1 Owner raman Group users Size 11905 Last Modified Aug 17 16:04 Filename examples.tex
Notice that Emacspeak infers the meaning of each field in the file listing. Pressing the tab key while a field is being described interrupts speech immediately and moves to the next field.